A Cross-Cultural Study on the Effects of Ambiguity in Risk

Publication Date: Tuesday 24 May 2016
Author(s): Tewari, G.; Cauberghe, V.; Hudders, L. & Claeys, A. S.
Appeared in: EMAC Conference Proceedings


The objective of this study is to measure how ambiguity influences the processing of a health risk message in a cross-cultural setting. In particular, we aimed to investigate whether the impact of ambiguity in health risk messages differs in Belgium versus India, two countries that differ in uncertainty avoidance. The results of an experimental study showed that ambiguity affected respondents' perceived severity of the risk and evoked arousal, thus influencing subsequent actioned behavior. However, the patterns were found to be different in Belgium versus India. The impact of ambiguity on actioned behavior was mediated through two different sub processes. In Belgium (High uncertainty avoidance), ambiguity led to high emotional arousal, which further led to increased actioned behavior. In India (Low uncertainty avoidance), high ambiguity in a risk message first led to decreased perceived severity, which eventually resulted in less actioned behavior. The findings of this study open the door to create effective risk messages by controlling ambiguity and influencing the ambiguity concern in risk messages.

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